No, not a blow job you filthy-minded bloggie.

Back to BLOGGING se dijo!

… I hope. I miss this land, so I’ll try to blog again, por lo menos un poco, no?

****

Yep, my hiatus has dragged longer than I expected, and you may have noticed–especially you, my long time followers– that I’ve been mostly out of the blogging radar, but I come bearing good gifts. These gifts are for myself though. ha (sorry) I’ll get some for you soon.

I’ve still tried to keep in touch with some of you who I’ve become friends with, but I also miss the other other buddies on here, all of you fellow bloggers and readers. With that said, I don’t think this post is going to be structured, so bare with me.

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Uh one…

Two…

Three and to the four!

Five, six, seven eight and to the nine!

Nine numbers.

It’s fuckin’ amazing what nine numbers will do for you. Nine little numbers!

The lack of nine little numbers had been the lack of a key for my ball and chain. And now I got it, though I still have a few chains on me. At least one has been released.

What the hell am I talking about?

My Social Security number, the one thing that makes you somewhat of a “person” here in the states. Yep, I FINALLY got my social security number. Twenty-two and a half years living in the states and I finally have one. It specifically states that I’m only under “work authorization” though. Funny how a number will make you a person, like the 14th Amendment made black slaves five fifths of a person instead of four fifths of a person.

****

Anywho, back in July, when I wrote about Obama signing an executive order for deferred action for childhood arrivals, back when I nearly peed and shit my pants in disbelief and excitement, I still doubted this day would come. Barred from everything, even being able to “legally” work had worsened my depression. Who wouldn’t be down after graduating college, after becoming the family’s first generation college grad, and THEN having no job because you can’t “legally” get employed. Not having any money, hardly any for rent because of nine little numbers. You’d be blue rightfully so. But I was more than blue. And you long-time-bloggie-friends know how much beyond blue.

I was in hell. And now I’m out of hell. Been so for a few months now. So I’m out of hell and… and… in a job!

Yep, so back in January, I actually got my “work authorization card” (in the back of the card it reads: “This card is not evidence of U.S. Citizenship or permanent residence”). But I didn’t get around to blogging about it. And when I finally spent a day at the SSI office and all that jizzazz, I didn’t write about it either. But I REALLY wanted to. I REALLY did!

So much has been changing though. I’m exhausted.

********

About a day or two BEFORE my social security number aka SSI card arrived in the mail (peed my pants again), I had a job interview. Yep BEFORE. I’m a hustler. And thanks to a lovely friend. Love you. And I was called back the same day! The boss fella wanted me to work right away. Of course, I had to go through all this logistical shit, background check and whatnot. I even got asked why I’m not a “legal permanent resident” by HR. Face palm ten times!

So here I am now. Two weeks into work. I just finished my second week this Thursday. It’s part time,so I only go into the office three days a week. That’s ok though,  because considering my physical and mental conditions, part-time is more than enough for me to handle. Don’t think I could handle more, at least not right now. Besides, I’m free to freelance now! I’ve been on elance, odesk, freelancer.com and all those sites preppin’ up my portfolio. I even started a new blog related to my profession!

****

So where is P putting her skills to practice? At a community college. I’m working at one of the largest community colleges around here in the states. I’m at the PR department of the regional city-wide college system. I’m kind of like the multimedia girl. Video editing, photography, graphics and design. I’ll be doing a little writing too, mostly technical.

It’s been a hectic two weeks but I’m proud of myself. Damn proud.

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Life Line

August 2, 2012

I’m too tired to write anything today. But I did want to share this. I think I’m going to start a new series, “P’s Pool Stories” What do you think? Does that sound cheesy, but something you may want to read? Yay? Nay?

****

I was scheduled to have an interview with a reporter today about the Deferred Action/Dream Act that was sent out as an executive order by president Obama. I guess she wanted to interview me about it and for me to share my personal story. As usual these last two weeks, I only slept about four and a half hours. I was so nervous/anxious. I’d been trembling all morning. But that’s already been happening anyway as you may know.  I’m not going to get into details, but basically she canceled on me.

Thankfully, today is one of my swimming days. It has been one of my lifelines for the last month and a half or so. Sucks my mom works as a janitor there and is starting to get tired of her supervisor who keeps telling her to “scrub harder here and scrub harder there” and “you missed a spot”. My mom is a clean freak, so I’m sure she’s doing her job well, he’s just buggin’. On the plus side, she has a job! It’s not something we could’ve said six months ago. And the fact that she works there is the only reason I’m able to go swimming in the first place.

Money issues? Meh.

I’m at ease at the moment and will savor this bit of strange calm (I did take a Clonazepam for the interview though, so that’s one reason why).

And I’m buff! heheh. Or as my brother says, “Damn you’re shredded shorty!” I think I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my life, though not mentally fit yet. I mean, I am mentally strong despite the instability and my lack of self-esteem and all the other bullshit that comes with mental problems.

I’ve been fit before and I’ve also been overweight as well as crack-head skinny. My weight fluctuates to extremes like my moods. As I mentioned in Termination of Therapy and a Secret Diagnosis of BPD, my weight has fluctuated A LOT throughout my life, and I have serious body image issues that I have slowly been working out the last three years. And now I’m turning into one of those douchey muscle guys that always stand in front of the mirror flexing and kissing their pecks.

Oh, snap, I think I did just write. heheh. My favorite lane is the one on the far left by the windows. 🙂

********

Just keep swimming. It’s hardly ever this empty.
(taken with  my semi-crappy Nokia camera phone) I’m doing an average of 8 to 14 laps. 48 seconds  a lap (2way) was my latest timing. And I don’t know why the water looks so cloudy here.

I was invited to a game of tag by Sailor and Angel. I thought I’d answer Sailor’s questions today.

********

1. Do you think you could survive a zombie apocalypse and if so what would be your weapon of choice?

This is a difficult question Sailor. I had a long discussion with my brother about this not too long ago and here’s what I came up with: On one hand, I’m in a wheelchair, so I can’t run even if my life depended on it. I might get a few yards in but then my legs would break due to my brittle bones condition, I’d thus fall and the zombies would have me prey. I’m only three feet and two inches tall, so I can’t hold really big guns unless I strap them onto my wheelchair or rig it up with weapons. I could also be strapped to a person’s back, but that may slow them down making us both soon-to-be-dead-meat. Taking those things into consideration, I have a slim chance of survival.

BUT, then on the other hand, I’m so small that I might be able to slip into little, crammed areas where zombies won’t reach me (unless I run into a zombie that’s dwarf-size like me or a baby zombie). While the zombies are looking straight ahead, I could slip under them unless there are a few crawling. I’m also quick and agile, so I might be able to train with knifes and fight off the zombies that way. Also, if I’m caught in an attack near a pool or a lake or some large body of water, I can most definitely get away. My endurance in the water is incredible, so I’d be able to swim to a small island somewhere–granted I’d have to make it to the ocean first.

In short, I probably have a 30% chance of survival, which isn’t too great. I’d be one hell of a zombie though. I’d be killer with my surprise and sneak attacks.

Zombie P, pen and ink. The tail must’ve fallen off. © Paz/mmm

2. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Cheese! I can eat different kinds of cheese, right?

3. Do you think Noah had woodpeckers on the ark? If he did, where did he keep them?

Realmente no se. Tendría que abrir mi Biblia.

4. If space flight was affordable, would you go, just because you could?

I’ve always been fascinated with the universe and I love astronomy, so I most definitely would.

5. Would you very kindly draw me a picture of a bird and post it on your blog so I can add to my collection?

I’d love to! But I just spent too much time on the zombie-mouse which ended up funky looking, and then I realized it’s getting late here and I haven’t ate dinner. So here’s a picture of a bird I drew when I was in Florida back in January. Please ignore the random kids floating around the bird; they’re just doodles from my sketchbook but it’s all for you! (I’ll conjure up another bird eventually)

Bird for Sailor Carrie. © Paz


6. Do you think unicorns exist?

Only on other planets.

7. Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard? Were there razors in the jungle?

I thought Tarzan did have a beard. You got the Mouse very disappointed and confused Sailor. She’s banging at my skull now.

8. How old do you think you would be if you didn’t know how old you are?

Well, I’m the size of a five-year old, height-wise, but I’m definitely not a five-year old. So, I’ll go with ten, just ’cause I like even numbers and that’s the age my grandma kept saying she was when she had a stroke and started with the dementia.

9. Will you be joining me on my boat when I win the lottery? 

Hells yeah! I’d love to ride the MFF cruiser. But then you might loose me when I jump in to join the dolphins.

10. What makes you, you? 

There’s a house full of PLDs and a mouse living in my head.

11. Did you like my questions? Claro que si, mi querida marinera!

********

I’m not going to tag anyone at the moment. But I will add that I made a Facebook page about two weeks ago. Feel free to check it out (or not).

****

addendum: I hate Facebook! And I’m having terrible anxiety today. 😦 I remembered about a call I got two weeks ago from a reporter at the Houston Chronicle. It’s about the DREAM Act and deferred action. I told her I was down for an interview. But then my phone got funny and I wasn’t receiving texts for a week. I just got an old message she left me today. I don’t know what to do… I mean, the last interview was nerve wrecking. I wrote about it here: Interviews and Anxiety, a Retort.

In my excitement I forgot that an executive order doesn’t necessarily guarantee proper implementation, or have immediate effect. Woops. haha. I guess there’s more fighting to be done. Well, there’s always fighting to to be done. And that’s just a reminder to myself to re-educate myself before I go writing overly excited WordPress posts.

I feel like I’m loosing my mind, agggggh, more so than ever.

****

Here’s a statement one of my dear friends posted:

This has the potential to be amazing news IF it gets effectively implemented on the ground. So the next 60 days shall be telling. Otherwise I am just reminded of past failed promises like Prosecutorial Discretion & the Morton Memo while the Dylans and the Andys and the Ramons and the Yanellis are deported every single day, and there is no room left in my heart for it to be disappointed yet again.

~ from my friend KB, one of the core members/founders of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA). (A complete statement can be seen on their website if you click the link)

*sigh*

I miss being involved. I miss my friend KB, though I did see her at Mansie’s birthday the week before last… I don’t remember now. But my head isn’t cut out for handling that kind of intense work these days.

I guess this is why I’m “borderline”. I’m easily excited and I’m easily torn. FUCK. Why do I have such an impulsive nature?

********

In other news, Luna’s paw is still very cute. These photos are fresh from this morning (my shutter is still a little messed up, but I got one or two focused the way I wanted):

Holy hell! Holy hell give me the strength I need to proceed.

So… *takes deep breath*

I had a terrible night. I mean the cold came back two-fold. Phlegm woke me up in the middle of the night, gurrgling up my chest, up my throat, up my nostrils. Ugh. It was awful. I figured maybe it was because I swam in that cold water yesterday.

So I woke up thinking, or rather negative P woke up thinking, “Great, I was looking forward to swimming today. Can’t a girl get a break!?”

Then the most incredible thing happened. My mom got home from works (she cleans this rich dude’s house on Fridays) and said S, a family friend had called her to tell her the D.R.E.A.M Act was passed by president Obama. Now, I’m a leftist but I’m not an Obamacrat. Under his administration we’ve seen the highest rate of deportations, many of which have been fellow DREAM Act eligible students like myself. But I digress.

The news didn’t phase me since I’ve been so occustomed to hearing false hopes about the D.R.E.A.M Act, a bill which would allow a pathway to citizenship to at least half of the nearly two million undocumented youth who live, and much like myself, were raised in the U.S.

I had to read it to believe it. So I got online.

****

I have been rather distant to anything political over the last six months. The last thing I was involved in was the United We Dream National Congress in Dallas back in November of last year. I briefly mentioned the trip to the United We Dream Congress here: Interviews and Anxiety, A Retort. And if you read that, you know how disillusionment I’d become. I’d been criticized  by native born Americans and immigrants alike. I’d been criticized even by a fellow “radicals” who I liked, who like myself, didn’t enjoy playing the politician games. I was part of a student organizing group and this one guys broke my heart when he said we were “joining in with the imperialists”.

Ha! If he only knew how desperate we were!

********

And then December came with its bad news. Ten long years fighting for the D.R.E.A.M Act and once again, it got shelved.

By then my usual depression was starting to kick in intensely. I ignored it; it was in its usual winter timing. I moved on. I started this blog. In fact, my very first post–A Sonnet for a Kid I Never Knew— was a poem dedicated to an “illegal alien” (note the sarcasm) who had shot himself just a few days before, in this very state I live in. Joaquin Luna was only 18 when he died.

Well, Joaquin, I dedicate another post to you. It’s a shame you’re no longer present to take part in this day with me, but guess what? I’m thinking of you. I will not kill myself because I know that I can do a lot for others.

Yep, the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act has been approved by executive order.

From an Associated Press source:

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today the Obama administration announced a brazen usurpation of Congressional authority by using executive power to implement the DREAM Act.  Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will grant deferred action and possible work authorization to certain illegal aliens under the age of 30 who arrived in the U.S. before 16 years of age.  DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expects that nearly 1 million illegal aliens will be granted amnesty through this effort.

“Over the past ten years, Congress has repeatedly rejected the DREAM Act. Now, five months before the presidential election, the Obama administration is unilaterally rewriting our immigration laws, defying Congressional authority and threatening our constitutional framework,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

“This is a blatant abuse of executive power that ignores the will of Congress and the American people,” charged Stein. “The Obama administration is engaging in a shameless display of political pandering to satisfy a narrow slice of its party.

Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1eBsL)

(Don’t you just love the term. “Alien” Yeah. I’m an “illegal alien”. Right.) And actually, to make a correction from the not-so-great news source, it isn’t amnesty–not merely at least. People love to simplify things to their lowest common denominator. Amnesty is more broad. This is really restricted. This is only for students and minors, and dare I say it is mostly earned. People think “Amnesty” is giving a man a fish. I think I learned to fuckin fish and swim and survive.

my “No Person is Illegal” t-shirt from college

I’m going to have to call my laywer now and tell him the news! Go thing we didn’t send off the I-130 yesterday. Maybe I forgot those papers for a reason?

Oh this is bittersweet.

Sweet because I now have a chance! Bitter because I know so many stories, much more heart wrenching than I can even imagine. My story is a rainbows-and-butterflies-story compared to some of the other students I’ve read about, encountered, spoke and cried with.

One girl in particular just came to mind. Her mother, a former maquiladora, was tired of her hustbands abuse and left for El Paso. She died crossing the border and this girl was left to travel with strangers. There she was dumped in a small town in Texas… god, the story gets worse. But this girl was an honors student, made it out of college. I hope she’s able to apply like I am now that this executive order was passed!

Baghh… I want to scream and cry. Not everyone who deserves it will get it. And that’s the terrible thing about laws, someone–someone very deserving, someone struggling will be marginalized, will be kicked to the curb.

I’m shaking but this time it’s not bad. Yes, I am in shock, utter fuckin shock!

Guess a girl did get a break today!

Oh right, the lawyer. “Deferred Action” here I fuckin’ come!

And I’m out…

I Was Tagged

January 17, 2012

I was tagged on Facebook the day after arriving in Florida. But because I’ve been avoiding Facebook and emails since my arrival, I didn’t really look at this until recently.

The caption reads: “Young woman circumvents physical and migratory obstacles.”

Tagged

Let me test my translation skills. A better translation would read: “Young woman circumvents obscenely high objects (anything above four feet) and runs a marathon around the crazy legal sytem and its illogical, inhumane immigration laws, and, despite finding herself unable to reach the finish line, continues to run.”

The article below reads: “A hispanic minor dies… shot caused by her cousin.”

Shit! Tragedy. That’s how the news works. One story is about a construction worker saving three dozen kittens from a pipe near his home; the next is about how a three ton pipeline fell, crushing three construction workers and a kitten.

I honestly still haven’t read the article. From what I saw, they added a year to my age. And they know nothing about my mental disorder, so I know I seem more optimistic than I currently am. I skimmed the bit of article that shows in this photo just to block out the name, but otherwise I haven’t. I really should revel more in my accomplishments instead of beating myself up over what I haven’t done or what I cannot do because of my predicament and insecurities. Right, and no “should” statements. Here, I’ll practice what I’ve learned from therapy. It would be good if I reveled more in my accomplishments. There.

So here it is. My moment of revelry–siting in Eloise’s room by myself, sharing this semi-anonymously over the internet. I too have a dream! I too want ice cream!

MLK's Dreamsicle

Dreamsicle

One day, I too will have my dreamsicle! And dammit, it will be tasty!

Until then, I’m going to write. I’m going to write with the furry that’s in me. Also, I’m going to try to finish writing what I had started about Florida tomorrow morning. Eloise (damn I should give my girl a proper introduction before mentioning her so many times) is gone for the night. She’s out with her boyfriend (I’m not fond of him), so I feel free to write until she gets back. I think I have until tomorrow. Shhh.

Otherwise, I cannot write at ease. Every time I get close to being caught blogging, I feel a jolt of anxiety, as if I were shamed, as if I were being caught smoking crack. Whenever I’m on here and she passes by me, I always quickly close the tab the way Kanye West would close a flashing porn site every time his girlfriend passed by.

Two weeks ago she asked me if I had a blog. It went something like this:

“Paula, do you have a blog?”

I stare at her blankly for a moment.

“Yes I do,” I eventually reply.

Then, I say nothing else. I look away and stare at her cat who’s incidentally staring at me as if to say, “You can ses it! You can! You can has too! Yes. Yes! Come on you. Spek!”

And as we sit in awkward silence for a few seconds, I’m fully aware that she’s seeking more information, yet I withhold. She’s waiting for me to tell her about it, but since I’m not yet comfortable with my close friends or relatives reading it, I stall a little longer.

“So are we still going to go to the farmer’s market?” I quickly change the subject hoping she will get the hint. She’s good at getting hints and backs off. We move on. Whew.

I still feel like she knows more though. Why else would she have asked? Was it because I told her I wanted to start a blog? Was it because I’ve been spending half of my time here reading other people’s blogs?

I feel like maybe she’s sneaked into my blog while I’ve left the room and my computer is just lying there open pleading to her, or maybe she quietly opens it while I’m in the bathroom showering or having more trouble with the shitty toilet design. I don’t think she would. I’m not going to defame anyone I care about on here, I hope. Then why am I so hesitant?

While I ponder my avoidance, I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote that I try to live by:

Now you listen to me. While I will admit to a certain cynicism, the fact is I am a naysayer and hatchetman in the fight against violence. I pride myself on taking a punch and I’ll gladly take another because I choose to live my life in the company of Gandhi and King. My concerns are global. I reject absolutely pride, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. I love you Sheriff Truman.

— Albert Rosenfield to Sheriff Truman, Twin Peaks

I was interviewed this morning by a correspondent of EFE international news.

It was awkward. Very awkward on my part at least, and as a result, my anxiety meter has just shot up to the ninth degree. My hands are trembling Michael J. Fox style. And my heart hurts when it palpitates.

I don’t like talking about myself. [ha!] Ok, I don’t like talking about myself under certain circumstances, like being in front of a microphone and a glaring lens.

Really though, I don’t. I don’t like to evoke sympathy. I’ve had to swallow enough of that in my childhood to stuff a herd of overgrown factory cows. No more. Sympathy can suck it. I don’t think I could say that any more concisely than the Dude: “I don’t need your fuckin’ sympathy, man, I need my fucking johnson!”

I do.

I have had many struggles–incapacitating physical and mental struggles–maybe even more than the average bear (and mouse). But you’ve had struggles too. I’m sure of that. That’s partly why I’m here, to share and read others’ struggles. And maybe we can mix our struggles into one giant ball of Play Doh, roll it down a grassy hill and then roll ourselves down that hill, mash it and laugh about it with a childlike glimmer in our eyes. And in the long run, isn’t all of humanity wedged in the same chaotic ball of energy, a floating ball of infinite energy swimming in an endless void? That in itself is a struggle.

So this reporter fella, J, sends me an email last Tuesday. (I think it was last Tuesday, I’m forgetting what days we’re on. Woke up from a nap earlier, was in a panic, thinking it was Monday already and that I’d missed my flight, which won’t be until Wednesday. This damn seasonal change wrecks havoc on my already fucked biorhythms)

Anyway, I get this email from correspondent J:

SOLICTUD PARA ENTREVISTA

Hola, estoy buscando a Paula –—-. Soy corresponsal con la Agencia de Noticias EFE y me han solicitado un reportaje sobre su caso. La duda que tengo es que no sé si es usted la misma Paula que salió en los medios hace pocas semanas.

In sum, the email is asking 1. If i’m the same Paula from that November Huffington Post article (which he provided a link to), and 2. If he could interview me about “my case”.

I’m in the Huffingon Post? How did this happen? I clicked the link, a terrible mistake. And I read it. An even worse mistake.

The article was from when I was talking to a reporter in a loud convention center in Dallas, TX. It was for a United We Dream event in regards to the DREAM Act. During a lunch break, she sat me down even though I was already sitting, and we talked over coffee. We had a great conversation. But I guess I was so sleep deprived that weekend that I just thought we were chatting it up and ignored the fact that she was scribbling in a little notepad.

The article. It was uh, it was… ok. I don’t believe any article/report can give accurate truth to a situation and it can’t give more than a superficial validation to the people in it. There’s no such thing as unbiased reporting. And her writing made me appear slightly mentally challenged, which I kinda am. But no one has to know right?

Here’s how the article ends:

“If I had legal papers, I would get help for my disability,” said Paula —–. “There needs to be a change in the ignorance over the situation of thousands of undocumented students, people should know the truth about this movement.”

I laughed a little. I mocked myself.

*in mocking robotic voice* “If I had legal papers…” “Oh.. if i had legal papers I be set. Disability.”

What kind of diction and syntax is that? I’ll tell you what kind. It’s the robotic kind because when intense anxiety hits, you become many things you’re usually not. I become a robot with sparking wires flying everywhere. Add coffee to that.

Another thing, it makes me seem demanding. But you know what, fuck it, maybe I should be demanding!

And then, there “needs to be a change in the ignorance over the situation”. I don’t speak like that. Do I? I remember saying something more profound or less stupid.

I know I’m being overly critical of myself. And I know the written and spoken language are not the same. That’s exactly why I don’t like interviews. I writeth better than I speaketh. Don’t know if I make much sense in either form though.

What was worse and more anxiety inducing was the comments/discussion section that followed the article. They were vicious! Re-fuckin-lentless. Very, very hateful stuff man. At least they didn’t have terrible grammar and all caps letters like most of their kind usually do.

So for my own psychological well being, I limited myself to reading three… ok four, which go as follows:

Comment #1:

“Weird twilight zone”? Because people want our laws enforced? What Bizzaro world do you live in? Look around, no country allows themselves to be overrun by illegal aliens.

Yes, this world of mankind is bizzaro kinda like that show. And I did run over and overrun a mean girl in middle school with my wheelchair while I turned alien green, but then again, I’d say it was more of a Hulk green. Either way, green was against school policy which was heavily enforced.

Comment #2:

There are 6 billion 700 million non US citizens on the planet, do you believe they all should be given a right to come to America and live? I say hell no! My wife is from Korea, she is now a US citizen, never has anyone from her family asked to have us sponsor any of them, we never even talked about it. The dream act is just another backdoor amnesty like the 14th amendment, which will some day be closed.

I just really feel for this fella’s wife. They “never talk about it,” which means it’s very likely they don’t ever talk about other family related issues. And the 14th Amendment gave former slaves the right to be seen as a whole person by the law (the law which did nothing to change how they were treated anyway) instead of three fifths of a person. Is he suggesting the U.S. revert to the Civil War era? And I wonder who the good sir thinks is worthy of being allowed to stay, to be allowed to be seen as five fifths of a person. Anchor baby this. *points below*

Comment #3:

“I’m sure most other 4 year olds are totally capable of going through the legal immigration process”

Illegal aliens have a good use for their children, as pawns.

I do admit, I’m a pawn. But I’m not much use to my parents. In fact, I feel like a burden right now. I guess they use my lovin’. I will stick with that for now. And I was indeed a four year old when I came here. However, I could not file paperwork then due to poor penmanship, and even if I could there was and and is no law in place to allow me to do so. My dad did apply, but all was in vain. And because I’m a stealthy pawn, I have been trying to get to that sweet queen for twenty-one of my sweet twenty-six years of pawn living.

Comment #4:

Education = The Immigrant Dream??? Perhaps, but only immigrants from India and Senegal and Korea and China. The notion that Latinos, as a people place, an emphasis on academic achievement is laughable.

Laughable? This guy was right about that. But what’s up with the multiple question marks? One will suffice man. I guess I’m also a failure in the education system because I’m not Indian, Senegalese or Korean like commentator #2’s wife. And my failure in education is why I’m currently unemployed, having graduated cum laud this past May–a B.A. in Media Production, two minors in English and art and another useless degree in sound engineering. The B.A. only took me seven years to arrive at. And I believe my failing pawny ass can also speak English.

This last dude’s comment went on and on about how Latinos have the highest dropout rate, how his tax dollars a being wasted on those worthless illegal dropouts (they’re probably Mexican so they must be illegals) and how he doesn’t get why people dare call him racist when he speaks this undeniable truth. I wonder if he’s ever thought about why these kids drop-out. Why I nearly dropped out.

At that point, I closed the browser window and backed away from the computer like if it were a set of explosives. I was the one at risk of exploding. So I took a breather. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Remember your mindfulness skills.  People will have their opinions, and that’s ok. Not everyone will is willing to learn with an open mind and heart. Not everyone will get it, ever. And not all are spiteful and idiotic assholes.

Surprisingly, I was calm. But it was a numb calmness. Those calms are worrisome.

And… then today came along resurrecting the frustrations of the week, the anxiety, the twitching body, the sudden mental spasms, heated blood and electric current running through that blood.

Somehow I ended up saying yes to the interview request, and after a week of avoidance and cancelled appointments with reporter J, I found myself in my dad’s home office (I live with my parents), sitting in front of a mic and camera sharing my story. I thought this was going to be a written report like the first one. I nearly backed out when I found out it wasn’t. But the guy came all the way down here, so I felt obliged.

That’s how I put myself in the limelight again, naked, exposed. Exposure is good therapy for anxiety though, no? That’s what my therapist keeps insisting.

I fidgeted, my legs kicked, my hands spun a web, my heart raced almost as fast as my thoughts. So, it’s not even anonymous? They’re not gonna blur my face or cover it with a black square. They’re gonna give my real name? I’m not gonna get an autotuned voice!

I feel like such an exhibitionist now. But I make myself believe it’s for a good cause. It’s for awareness. It’s to be heard. My answers, however, were no better than the aforementioned Huffington Post bit.

“Are you ok?” reporter J said midway into the interview.

“Yes [lie]. I’m just tired. I haven’t slept much these past couple of days. The dogs woke me up the night before last.”

A few funny things kept happening though, and it lightened my mood a bit. My dad burst in from his morning jog carrying one of our two white Pomeranians on his shoulder; the other trotted behind. My dad is a dark, pot bellied, short man in his late 60’s. His round nose, bandana towel thingy hanging over his bald comb-over and the dog he hung on his back like a mink cloak was enough to distract me from the torture. I chuckled.

Then, after I had gained composure and was answering another set of the questions, the sound of peeing and a toilet flushing cut right through my voice. It was my groggy brother who’d just gotten out of bed down the hall.

Reporter J. stopped the camera and said, “We’re gonna have to do that part again.”

_______________________________________________

NOTE: I have a little sketch of me being filmed after the interview and my brother peering out his bedroom door. Maybe I’ll scan it and post tomorrow. Also, if you’re reading this and got this far, you’re awesome. Thanks for reading such a long, acidic rant and withstanding my sarcasm! Or you must be bored. I think I need to relax. I’ma go make myself a hot chocolate, watch The Walking Dead and cry myself to sleep because I can’t wait for the zombie apocalypse.

Joaquin Luna is no longer a kid, though he was when he was brought to the U.S..

He was an 18 year-old undocumented high school student, an A+ student before he shot himself a few days ago. Besides that, I don’t know the details of his suicide nor the circumstances the press wants to talk about and/or omit, and I sure as all hell don’t want to think about all of the political implications–all the petty, hateful online arguments about immigrants in the comment sections I used to read so much–and that, I presume, have been stirred by this kid’s publicized story.

I’ve been enjoying my media blackout lately and I hope to keep it that way for a little while, for my own sanity’s sake.

So, I honestly didn’t want to know much, if anything at all. Unfortunately, I could not resist my organizer friend’s Facebook posts and I read on and on. What I do know is that, apparently, there were notes of his with stated worries about his immigration status. Notes not dissimilar to the picture below.

Found this on Post-It[dot]com about a year ago

From Post-It.com


I found this image on Post-It.com last spring and saved in my computer. I’ve had it since and use it as a reminder to stay strong; to not see myself as a victim; to keep my commitment to the movement, the people in it, those who work day in day out organizing, planning, doing, and to the kids. I will continue my efforts to educate them, to tell them they can because I have been there. I am still there. I can only hope the kid who wrote the Post-It didn’t end up like Joaquin. 

********

I was a teenager just like Joaquin. And just like the kid who posted this note, I often thought of “jumping off” a bridge or a ledge of some kind (though at thirteen I could barely stand). I didn’t belong anywhere. All those teenage years, I felt I had no voice. “I might as well drown with my fuckin’ voice” I’d whisper.

I often thought of how I would manage drowning myself in Buffalo Bayou or some other creek in the Southwest or Memorial Park or better yet, somewhere more isolated where my body wouldn’t scare too many people once found. I’d have to shoot myself first; then I’d fall in and drown. Wherever. I didn’t exactly matter. That was my plan. I just dreamed of drowning because it seemed better than the kind of drowning I was already experiencing. Society told me being an “illegal” was less than a person. Being an “illegal” meant you weren’t welcome, wanted, cared about, needed. You were a criminal not a human–you weren’t anyt/hing at all.

“I am seen as a waste of righteous and rightful tax paying citizen’s dollars even though my illegal daddy pays taxes too. I’m a waste of flesh, regardless.”

That’s not taking into account all of what family told me, the fears that were bred. “Don’t ever say anything you hear about it! Nunca! Don’t ever call the police, even in scary situations.” It was more so implied than actually said.

No soy de aquí! Ni soy de allá!” I used to silently scream while banging my limp body against a wall, a doorknob, a table corner–anything that would make my body throb, anything to quell the thoughts.

Then I realized that there is such a thing as a privileged class. I learned how much societal structures try to bind us and how much we willingly let them shackle our minds. I learned this thing we humans do in our wonderfully organized societies–we set classes, we classify. And by classifying, we degrade one another.

I was fortunate: the nineties were easier, hell anything prior to 2011 and the aftermath of 9/11  was easier. There weren’t that many Joe Arpaios in Arizona making immigrant detainees dress in pink panties to humiliate them; there were no Tent Cities in Texas; there were no private prisons who profited on “illegal” children and their mothers being detained. I was able to go to college, partly because of my tenacity and partly because I was in the right place at the right time. I got a private church-based scholarship and with that, and a few academic awards, I went to college. Many cannot; many will not. The limits are boundless. Yes, we are the embodiment of that very oxymoron you see in that last sentence.

***

Initially, I didn’t think to/want to write a post, especially not one like this. I just had this blog here waiting for something to strike me, to compel me enough to dive into this thing, all nervousness aside. It sat here lonely in November, my little blog.

Unfortunately, something did hit me, but not in the way I’d hoped. I just heard so much about this that I feel I should speak now. It is imperative that I speak up for all of my silent years, for those like Joaquin. Yet, suicide is something that I do not feel comfortable talking about. My thoughts on the subject would require many posts because it runs too close to home for me to even begin.

Being undocumented, however, is something still sitting on my doorstep. It scratches at the door of my thoughts like a hungry street cat that never leaves. What shall I do today? Oh, right, I can’t, I don’t have the nine magic numbers. It’s like being chained on a leash and someone–the great big hand of daddy State–smacks you with the belt and places the plate out of reach.

And so the news of his suicide did cause a strange intimate unease in me. Most suicides do, but this one is considerably different.

It was a momentary unease but it was intense enough to tear a piece off of me. It reached a core in me.

Believe it or not, each stressor–be it big or small–can dance around in an emotionally and mentally unstable person’s mind. Any additional stressor can send them spinning over the edge.

I also find both topics–immigration and suicide–are ones I know a good deal about, or think I do at least. But I can’t argue and I am not going to argue about the reasons or the causes now, because for one, to any given suicidal person there are many (mostly reasons arising from distorted perceptions) and they’re all relative; and two, I never knew the guy. So I will not speculate further.

I will say this however: Suicide is a reality in EVERY population. And there is a markedly high population of undocumented youth living in the U.S. whose mental health is being overlooked, whose lives are forsaken.  It is tragic. I cannot say there are so-and-so thousands hurting because I cannot back this up with statistic. Roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate U.S public high schools every year. If one in four people are likely to have a severe mental disorder, I can only guess. How many feel pushed back and forth like a bobo doll? Pushed towards furthered mental instability by society.

I can only back it with personal experience, though. I was a participant of a study Dr. Lauren Luttinger conducted on immigrant youth and depression in a New York City university near the Bronx. She told me it  was very telling. Some of her findings were that risks are higher for “illegal” kids much like kids from, say an urban, poverty-stricken neighborhood where the daily diet is violence and hopelessness; kids who are raped; kids from a household with an alcoholic parent; or queer kids in a predominantly Baptist, conservative, rural Texas town. These are just a few examples of the many “high risk” populations.

****

This is not just about some bill (D.R.E.A.M Act) being tossed around for a decade by the men in black suits and grey beards calling all the shots, trowing up the bill like a rotten steak. Meanwhile, the chained and malnourished dogs can only look down and salivate.

It’s far too complex. I know. It’s about groups of people and their “place” in society, keeping order, blah blah blah. The “places,” the “classes” nations put them in. The “place” we put ourselves and each other in. It’s the way we treat ourselves and each other.

I just hope people take a little time to consider these things from a broader perspective. I hope they would take a step back from their daily lives for a minute to see it from a more sociological view because society DOES play a role in the nature vs. nurture dichotomy of depression as well as other mental health issues and mental disorders.

***

To Joaquin R.I.P.:

Sonnet of the Undocumented Student

Hackneyed, unkind, lost words my mind once bore
In unspoken airs of my resistance.
They’re not a love to write a sonnet for—
These words barely breathe my fumed persistence.
See we, not conquerors of course, are told
And expected to pay our loyalties
To those who make social constructs; yet fold
And love to scorn whilst in their boundaries.
Gracious ports once opened no longer hear
Hope’s clangs rebound, up down, up down on stones.
Now our bodies, voices and dreams call near
To the only land that’s taxed our bones.
Students deemed ‘aliens’ for lack of forms,
Let’s not trade empathy for empty norms!

© Paz 2009